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16-02-2019 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 2/2021

Mindfulness 2/2021

Affective Neural Mechanisms of a Parenting-Focused Mindfulness Intervention

Tijdschrift:
Mindfulness > Uitgave 2/2021
Auteurs:
Caitlin C. Turpyn, Tara M. Chaplin, Sarah Fischer, James C. Thompson, John R. Fedota, Ruth A. Baer, Alexandra M. Martelli
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Abstract

Objectives

Behavioral evidence suggests that parenting-focused mindfulness interventions can improve parenting practices and enhance family wellbeing, potentially operating through altered emotional processing in parents. However, the mechanisms through which parent mindfulness interventions achieve their positive benefits have not yet been empirically tested, a knowledge which is key to refine and maximize intervention effects. Thus, as part of a randomized controlled trial, the present study examined the affective mechanisms of an 8-week parenting-focused mindfulness intervention, the Parenting Mindfully (PM) intervention, versus a minimal-intervention Parent Education control.

Methods

Twenty highly stressed mothers of adolescents completed pre- and post-intervention behavioral and fMRI sessions, in which mothers completed a parent-adolescent conflict interaction, fMRI emotion task, and fMRI resting state scan. Mothers reported on their mindful parenting, and maternal emotional reactivity to the parent-adolescent conflict task was assessed via observed emotion expression, self-reported negative emotion, and salivary cortisol reactivity.

Results

Results indicated that the PM intervention increased brain responsivity in the left posterior insula in response to negative affective stimuli and altered resting state functional connectivity in regions involved in self-reference, behavioral regulation, and social-emotional processing. Changes in mothers’ brain function and connectivity were associated with increased mindful parenting and decreased emotional reactivity to the parent-adolescent conflict task.

Conclusion

Findings suggest that mindfulness-based changes in maternal emotional awareness at the neurobiological level are associated with decreased emotional reactivity in parenting interactions, illuminating potential neurobiological targets for future parent-focused intervention.

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